The Cowardice of Subtweeting

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny (Matthew 5:21‭-‬26 ESV).

I’m a bit late to the game when it comes to the particulars of social media. Recently, I came across a social media device on Twitter called “subtweeting.” Here’s the definition and my initial thought on the subject:

Social media platforms can turn into one’s own personal echo chamber. “It’s my page–I can say what I want”–especially that person (1) feels a sense of moral superiority, or (2) they believe the person they criticize will never see their subtweeting.

Again, I know this passive-aggressive device has been around for a while, but I would hope that if a follower of Christ or someone that wishes to serve as a Christian leader comes across this blogpost that this would give them pause.

  1. It’s cowardly. Rather than go to that person and directly confront them about the issue, put out a cryptic tweet about the object of one’s angst. In the passage above, Jesus tells us not to avoid those conversations but to come to terms quickly with our accuser–the one who is the object of our anger.
  2. It’s cruel. Most subtweets are mean, not kind. Most (if not all) tweets which are encouraging in nature tag the person they wish to encourage. Subtweets, per the definition, mock and criticize, hiding behind the fortress of one’s keyboard. “Well, that’s just the nature of Twitter,” one may say. Is it? Do we as followers of Christ have to perpetuate that?
  3. It’s costly. To put this bluntly, people are not stupid and will find out somehow about the things said on social media. This is not a time to burn bridges. We need each other desperately as we navigate through these troublesome times. Behaviors like this will cost you your character, your relationships, and will affect your fellowship with the Savior you say you follow. What you’re saying is a lot more than what you’re saying.

In the book of Genesis, Cain’s jealousy of his brother Abel led to anger that was seething hotly in his heart. God gave him a warning:

“The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7, ESV).

While subtweeting may deceive us into thinking that we can get something off our chest with anonymity and cleverness, it also betrays a bitterness, anger, and a superiority that God sees right through. Sin crouches at the door of all of us. We cannot master this alone.

So, in an effort to subvert the subtweeting–either have the conversation with the person with whom you take umbrage, or take it to the Lord and have Him deal with this issue as He sees fit.

Come to think of it–both options are taking it to the Lord, for you are trusting Him with your responses.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s